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Thursday
Jul142016

Notes from The Freedom Dinner 2016

We could not have been happier with this year's Freedom Dinner.

Tuesday night's event at Boisdale of Canary Wharf exceeded expectations and the reason was pretty simple.

Rod Liddle, the former editor of Radio 4's Today programme, now associate editor of The Spectator and a columnist for The Sun and Sunday Times, gave a brilliant speech.

It was acerbic and very funny but there was a serious message concerning freedom of speech and freedom of choice.

I'll post the full speech tomorrow but here's the reaction of one guest:

Yes, it was that good and it was reflected in some of the emails and comments we've received. Here's one:

"Last night was a complete triumph! The venue was as good as ever, the food was perfect, and I think Rod Liddle gave the best after-dinner speech I've ever heard."

No event goes entirely to plan so there were a few hiccups.

There were a record number of guests – 170 – including several MPs and peers and we discovered quite late in the day that they had to remain in Parliament until 7.00pm when there was a vote.

That meant putting dinner back 20 minutes so they could get to Canary Wharf without missing the start of the meal.

That, in turn, meant more drinking time on the terrace for guests who had arrived at 6.15. Well, you can guess the rest.

Anyway there was a great turnout for this fifth (sixth?) annual event – MPs, peers, parliamentary researchers, journalists, political bloggers and friends of Forest.

Think tanks (Institute of Economic Affairs) and campaign groups (TaxPayers' Alliance) were represented.

We even had a world famous economist, Deepak Lal, who came as a guest of Claire Fox (Institute of Ideas).

And let's not forget Nancy Dell'Olio who is famous for other things but added a welcome touch of glamour.

We had a guest from the United States (who flew in that morning) and two from Ireland.

We were delighted too that Vapers In Power accepted an invitation to join us. ViP brought ten guests and added to the sense of inclusiveness.

Forest welcomes smokers and vapers to all our events and as Boisdale has a suitably liberal attitude to vaping they could vape quite happily in the restaurant.

See photos of the event here.

An innovation this year was the Voices of Freedom Awards. We presented five awards, one to Rod Liddle, the others to Chris Snowdon, Claire Fox (Institute of Directors), John Mallon (Forest Ireland) and Barry Curtis who campaigns for smokers' rights in psychiatric units.

I'll write a separate post on the awards later but this tweet is quite revealing, I think.

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Reader Comments (1)

Simon glad all went well, unfortunately I couldn't make the Freedom dinner this year, the'll be others. Keep up the good work.

Friday, July 15, 2016 at 3:33 | Unregistered CommenterGary Rogers

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